Report: Egypt Ready to Temporarily Secure Gaza Crossings After Israeli Withdrawal

By Yoni Weiss

Policemen stand at the Rafah crossing, in Egypt. (AP Photo/Omar Aziz)

Cairo has reportedly announced its willingness to deploy forces in the Gaza Strip for a limited period following a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces at the end of Israel’s war against Hamas, according to Egyptian sources cited by the Qatari-owned Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper on Wednesday.

Under the proposed arrangement, Egyptian troops operating under the U.N. would secure the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, other crossings between Gaza and Israel, and certain points along the Gazan coast. However, they would not be stationed inside cities and residential areas, the report specifies. This deployment would cover the transitional phase between the full withdrawal of Israeli forces and the establishment of a Palestinian administration in the Strip.

The potential Egyptian military presence in postwar Gaza was reportedly discussed on the sidelines of a meeting in Bahrain last week. The meeting involved IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and senior generals from several Arab countries under the auspices of U.S. CENTCOM.

According to a Western diplomatic source quoted by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a tripartite meeting took place between Halevi, Egyptian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Osama Askar, and U.S. Central Command Commander Michael Kurilla.

The three main topics of discussion at the wider meeting, according to the Qatari outlet, were the need for a speedy halt to the war in Gaza; the activation of an early warning system against drones and ballistic missiles fired by Iran and its regional proxies; and securing maritime trade in the Red Sea from the Houthis.

Regarding the first point, an Egyptian source stated that the Israeli army and the U.S. administration share a common goal to conclude the war as soon as possible, even if political decision-makers in Israel do not agree.

On the Iranian threat, Cairo has reportedly decided to stay out of a regional military alliance to counter Tehran, given ongoing consultations for a possible diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries.

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